KERNERSVILLE — The Bishop McGuinness girls basketball program won nine consecutive state titles from 2006-2014, an NCHSAA record.
But over time, the consistent winner retained its pride but lost the heart of a champion.
Brian Robinson, the coach behind the dynasty, said he wondered if the glory days could ever be brought back. But his doubt turned to confidence when fraternal twins decided to attend Bishop McGuinness, about an hour from their Reidsville home.
“I met them for the first time when they were in seventh grade at a basketball camp, and they told me in eighth grade that they were coming to Bishop,” Robinson said. “They went to St. Pius (in middle school), which is one of our Catholic feeder schools, and I immediately told Coach (Patricia Giordano) Grant, our assistant coach, that they would lead us to a championship or two before they graduated.”
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On Saturday, sisters Charley and Tate Chappell hope to repeat for McGuinness (27-4) in what will likely be their last game as teammates, facing Chatham Charter (26-5) 5 p.m. at N.C. State’s Reynolds Coliseum.
“I can definitely say it will be bittersweet,” Tate said. “Playing with her is my favorite thing to do. Honestly, it’s the best way to go out. If we could have the last game be anywhere, we would want it to be the state championship.”
“So this is very likely my last basketball game, and there is no one else I would rather do it with,” Charley said. “Tate has been there for every other basketball game, and now she is here for my last one. I think if we go out with a win, it would be a nice little grand finale for my career and to do it with her, that would be awesome.”
Born on July 21, 2004, Charley and Tate (older by nine minutes), played on the same team in the same leagues every year except one. But they got their games of H-O-R-S-E, P-I-G and driveway games until dark. In a one-on-one contest, they played each other in a gym about 10 minutes from home, before their father Steve, a former college football player, called the game to avoid them hurting each other.
Just as they did as kids, they quickly made up.
Charley is a brown-haired, 5-foot-5 point guard whose college plans don’t include basketball, even though schools have shown interest.
Tate is a blonde, 5-10 small forward, a versatile wing or post player who is committed but not yet signed to play basketball for Appalachian State. She has played in pink shoes all four years at McGuinness in honor of Katelyn Mitchell, their St. Pius X middle school assistant basketball coach, who died in 2020 of breast cancer.
Tate, the senior class president, is the creator of the “Coach R Fan Page” Twitter account @WeLoveBRob, which posts pictures of Robinson along with team news.
“Someone replied to him (Robinson) in an e-mail and called him B-Rob, and we had never heard of that before and it just kind of stuck,” Tate said. “Not to his face. He is always ‘Coach,’ ‘Yes, sir.’ … I have a ton of funny pictures that I take when he isn’t looking or doesn’t know about and especially some saved up.
“We started it in Tampa at the Christmas tournament and I posted it, and then part of me was like, ‘Maybe he thinks this will be a distraction, he won’t like this,’ so I stopped until a couple weeks later.”
The sisters are in the National Honor Society, with Charley the president. Tate also is in the National Art Honor Society. Charley has a 4.78 grade point average, and Tate has a 4.54. At this year’s HAECO Invitational, they became the tournament’s first siblings to get the Bill Lee Scholarship, given to four seniors from any of the participating teams based on academic (40%), athletic (40%) and civic (20%) achievement.
Charley was recently named a National Merit Scholarship finalist based on her PSAT score.
In middle school, they first went to Rockingham County. After transferring, they helped St. Pius X to a 63-1 record over two seasons.
When it came time to choose high schools, Charley said they both loved the experience at McGuinness when St.Pius X had an Eighth Grade Day there.
“Well, basketball wasn’t the deciding factor at all,” Charley said. “I really wanted to come here for the academics. They have a great AP program. I felt like the teachers were very personal, and all of the students spoke highly of the school.
“So our parents came and toured, knowing how far it was, ‘Oh, maybe, maybe not,’ and then they walk in and they see all of these championships and they meet Coach R and some of the players, and they were blown away by the character that the school had.”
The twins immediately took to Robinson’s student-led culture. They made a point to mentor younger players, believing that off-court relations carry over. For other McGuinness teams, they each have logged over 1,000 hours as sports medicine assistants to athletics trainer Brittany Price.
As four-year starters, they have been named all-conference every year and were nominated for the McDonald’s All-American game as seniors.
The Villains went 80-58 from 2014-15 to 2018-19, but they have been 87-20 since, an increase from .580 to .813 in winning percentage.
After the 2014 state title, McGuinness only reached the third round of the playoffs once in the five seasons before the twins’ arrival. Since then, it returned to regional rounds in 2020 and 2021, before back-to-back finals appearances.
“They have been pillars of our program,” Robinson said. “They have been very good representatives of our program. As much as I am happy for them to get to this point again, I’m sure there will be a little bit of sadness on Saturday, too, just because I’d like to continue coaching them if possible. But at the same time, I’ve told them already that when the buzzer sounds, win or lose, the relationship is forever.”